1st Edition

Contemporary Yoga and Sacred Texts

Edited By Susanne Scholz, Caroline Vander Stichele Copyright 2025
    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores the textual traditions that authorize the history, legitimacy, and authenticity of today’s physical posture practice. The volume focuses on why and how yoga communities have adopted various texts that they consider sacred or spiritually meaningful. Among the texts discussed are Yogananda‘s Autobiography, Sri Aurobindo's Savitri, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the Bhagavad Gita, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Upanishads, the Vedas, and the Yoginī Tantra. Famous thinkers referred to include Aurobindo, Yogananda, Osho-Rajneesh, Sogyal Rimpoche, Charles Johnston, and Howard Thurman. Offering a starting point, the ten essays address the nature, selection, and function of various ancient and contemporary texts read in contemporary yoga settings. The attention centers on how and why texts are read, and for whom they are read. As yoga is practiced in ashrams, yoga studios, gyms, meeting rooms, and even private living rooms, scholarly approaches to investigate the connections between yoga and texts are necessarily diverse.

    This volume aims to inspire further scholarship on the many ways in which various texts are sacralized in yoga communities, and on the reading strategies that are used to interpret them. The collection demonstrates that these issues deserve to be an important part of contemporary yoga studies. The anthology will, therefore, be of great interest to scholars of religious studies, yoga studies, and Asian studies, as well as those studying sacred texts.

    Introduction: Why Thinking about Texts Matters in Contemporary Yoga Practice

    Susanne Scholz and Caroline Vander Stichele

    1 Becoming the Inheritors of Mā-Kālī: Sādhana-krīyā and Mokṣa in the Yoginī Tantra

    Arunjana Das

    2 An Exploration of “Crazy Wisdom” in Ancient and Contemporary Buddhist Stories

    Paul van der Velde

    3 Charles Johnston’s Translation of the Yogasūtra Framed by Theosophical Initiation

    Yves Mühlematter

    4 Life, Death and Deathlessness in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri

    Daniel Raveh

    5 Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi as Sacred Text

    David J. Neumann

    6 Howard Thurman and the Roots of Modern Black Atlantic Yogas

    James Manigault-Bryant

    7 Dynamic Meditation, Shivering Kuṇḍalinī, and Neo-Tantra: Osho-Rajneesh and the Reformulation of Yoga in the Twentieth Century

    Hugh B. Urban

    8 How the Vedas Became the Word of God

    Hugh Pyper

    9 Reading Patanjali's Yoga Sutra like the Bible in Sunday School

    Susanne Scholz

    10 Texts, Teachers, and Traditions of Flemish Yoga Pioneers

    Caroline Vander Stichele


    Susanne Scholz is Professor of Old Testament at SMU Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas, USA. Her research focuses on the cultural study of sacred texts, especially the Hebrew Bible.

    Caroline Vander Stichele is Professor of New Testament and Cultural Impact of the Bible in Western Culture at the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology, Tilburg University, The Netherlands.